Confronting religious violence: Milton's Samson Agonistes

Feisal G. Mohamed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Miltonff's Samson has long been a character about whom readers are irreconcilably divided. Current anxiety over terrorism has made it all the more inviting to see Milton's dramatic poem as a criticism of Samson's slaughter of the Philistines, a sentiment emphatically expressed in John Carey's recent claim that "September 11 has changed Samson Agonistes, because it has changed the readings we can derive from it while still celebrating it as an achievement of the human imagination." This paper interrogates the association of Milton with present-day antipathy to religious violence and seeks to sophisticate the position of critics who now find terrorism an inescapable presence in the field of literary interpretation. The brand of reading most necessary in current discussion is one that avoids the reactionary temptation to cleanse literary texts of sympathy with religious violence and to view such violence as the province solely of the Other. (FGM)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-340+702
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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